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Minister Launches Plan to Make Ireland Best in Europe in STEM by 2026

Published: 27th November 2017

Minister Bruton Launches Plan to Make Ireland Best in Europe in STEM by 2026

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D. today launched his Department' STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 and Implementation Plan 2017-2019. In line with our objective to be the best in Europe, the plan being published today sets out the Minister's intention to make Ireland a European leader in STEM education by 2026.

We are undergoing a technological revolution globally. If Ireland is to be at the forefront of this transformation, we must be a leader in nurturing, developing and deploying STEM talent. This Policy Statement focusses on the many strengths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in Ireland while providing a roadmap to address the areas for development.

Key ambitions include:

  • Increase by 20% the total students taking Chemistry, Physics, Technology and Engineering for Leaving Certificate
  • Increase by 40% the number of females taking STEM subjects for Leaving Certificate
  • Increase participation in out-of-school STEM learning opportunities and STEM career activities
  • Introduce a new primary maths curriculum, which will include creative and computational thinking and coding
  • Accelerate the introduction of Computer Science at Leaving Certificate, with implementation brought forward to September 2018
  • Introduction of new Junior Cycle Mathematics and Technology curricula
  • Teachers will use a cross-disciplinary approach to incorporating STEM across all subjects
  • Enhance STEM teaching, learning and assessment practices in early years settings
  • Close the gap in achievement in STEM disciplines between students in DEIS schools and students in all schools significantly
  • Ensure that all schools, learners and parents have access to high quality information on the diversity of STEM careers
  • Build robust and sustainable partnerships between schools, business and industry, public sector bodies, research organisations, further and higher-level institutions and the arts

Achieving our goals will require a significant step-up in support to teachers and school leaders and encouragement of innovation in teaching methods.

Actions to deliver on these ambitions will be included in our annual programme under the Action Plan for Education and their impact will be reported on.

Speaking at the Launch, Minister Bruton said

"I have set the ambition to make Ireland's education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. We are living in a rapidly changing world and key to delivering on our ambition to be the best will be the ability of our education system to adapt to a transformed economy and society. Our children must be equipped with the necessary analytical, creativity and critical thinking skills to thrive in such an environment.

"That is why, during my time as Minister, I have prioritised the teaching and learning of STEM subjects. This Plan sets out how we will make Ireland a leader in the provision of STEM education.

"There is a significant gender gap between the number of males and females studying STEM. In this plan I've put an increased focus on encouraging traditionally underrepresented groups, such as females, to participate in STEM activities. We are increasing links between the education system and industry and putting in place supports to ensure our teachers feel confident to embrace STEM, in curricular, co-curricular and out-of-classroom settings.

"Curricular reform is vital. We are accelerating the implementation of the new Leaving Certificate Computer Science subject for example, and introducing a new primary Maths curriculum, which for the first time will include elements of coding and computational thinking.

"I have put together a 2 year Implementation Plan which sets out our annual targets to ensure we can meet our ambitions. I look forward to seeing our progress, in this important and exciting area.

The Minister thanked the members of the STEM Education Steering Group, the chairperson of which was Gary O' Donnchadha and the staff and pupils of St Clare's Primary School where the launch was held. 

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